Leadership is a big field of study; there are volumes of books on this subject. Presented in this journal in your hands is just one more attempt to deal with this important subject. The world has its own way of defining and practicing leadership. Often the strong-willed, controlling and impulsive personality who makes things happen is considered a successful leader. Little or no thought is given to the person’s character or style of leadership which produces the admirable results.

The world tells us that results or success are the marks of a good leader. Yes, we do need success and results, but leadership is not just about results or success. God, the creator of all things, has ordered society to function according to his mind. He has ordained leadership as a tool to achieve his purposes in every sphere of social life. Leadership—above all, the nature of leadership—matters to God.

The subject of discussion in this issue of Reformation Zambia has to do with the nature and style of leadership that brings honour to God. You will notice that we are speaking of leadership that honours God and not just a successful leadership style. This issue seeks to present a nature of leadership which is uncommon and unpopular and yet biblical. It is a leadership exemplified by the leader par-excellence Jesus Christ, commonly called “incarnational leadership” or “servant leadership.” This is what I am calling the “Jesus way of leadership” in this editorial write-up. The Jesus way of leadership—one of service, excellence, love, integrity, inspiration, vision and functionality among and with the people we are called to lead. Sadly, it is slowly becoming the common trend by a number of leaders to borrow the world’s way of practicing leadership and baptise it into the church. We are seeing pastors adopting the Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) style of leadership which has little or no touch with people and Christ. They say the “Jesus way of leadership” is archaic and counter-productive for the 21st century church.

As we discuss the question of leadership, it should be borne in our minds that any form or style of leadership that does not conform to Jesus’ way falls short of the biblical standard of leadership. Listen to what the apostle Paul says:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8; NKJV. 

Jesus Christ in his personality displayed both characteristics of servant-leadership. He was a servant, and he was a leader. He left the example of this concept of leadership to his immediate followers, the apostles. We notice that when his apostles were tempted to follow the style of leadership according to the trend of their own world, in which leaders dominate and are the ones served, he firmly and graciously corrected them, and said, “it shall not be so among you…” Mark10:42–45; NKJV. In his ministry on earth he beautifully fused together servant-hood and leadership. He was essentially a leader, and undoubtedly a servant. Brethren, Jesus left us an example, and we have no option but to be servant leaders: this is the Jesus way of leadership!

The articles presented in this issue help us to appreciate the concept and practice of servant leadership. In the first article, Ezron Musonda shows us the theology of leadership, its definition and theological dimensions, biblical models of leadership, a working model of leadership and the concepts of servant-hood in the Old Testament and the New Testament as central to the biblical understanding of leadership. He also deals with reasons why leadership matters in the church.

The second article is by Simon Banda. It is an exposition of Mark10:41–45, through which he explains the concept of servant leadership. He shows us the spirit of this leadership style, whose focus is on serving others in a sacrificial manner, as demonstrated in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.

In the third article, Joe Simfukwe takes the bull by the horns in presenting the challenges of servant leadership in an African context. This is in view of all the cultural and traditional pressures that militate against Jesus’ way of servant leadership on the African continent.

Finally, Choolwe Mwetwa deals with the different leadership styles. He provides the key issues on each style of leadership. He highlights the impact each has on the leader and the people being led.

Let me conclude with a lengthy quote from Dr. Richard J. Krejcir as he writes concerning his journey in search of true biblical leadership. He says:

“I have spent most of my ministerial career studying leadership; I even went to Harvard Business School where I pursued an MBA. I thought that would make me a better leader for Christ. But, I gradually came to understand that what makes a leader great and effective is not found in most business schools or even books on leadership. Quite the contrary, those qualities are found in the person, work, and life of our Lord Jesus Christ. When I ‘found’ what leadership was really about.., I also found that few would agree with or back me up. As a result, my Ph.D. dissertation was not accepted, and I was eventually phased out of my church growth firm because I was no longer teaching the status quo of leadership. They saw leadership as a force of will and personality infused with the most up-to-date trends. I saw leadership as Christ modelled it. I challenge you to reconsider what you think you know about leadership. Get your direction and mould from Christ rather than trends, the latest ideas, or what you think will work. Purely and simply, leadership is learned from being a child of God and a servant of Christ first.”

We need to be honest with ourselves as leaders. May I humbly remind those of us in the corridors of leadership to constantly ask ourselves a number of questions such as: Are we being agents of change or being manipulative and controlling? Are we empowering people or scheming to get them to do what we want? Are we leading the Jesus way or our own way? The Jesus way is the unpopular and uncommon way of girding a towel around your waist and being of service to others not just as a one-off thing but a permanent attitude and practice. As you read these articles, let me encourage you to rejoice in the Jesus way of servant leadership. It is a liberating style of leading people in a Christ-centred manner, with a kingdom mind of influencing, equipping and empowering people to accomplish God’s purpose and plan. 

Bibliography

Greenleaf, R. (1977). Servant leadership, Paulist Press

Spears, L. C. (2002). Tracing the Past, Present, and Future of Servant-Leadership. In Focus On Leadership: Servant-leadership for the Twenty-first Century (pp. 1–10). New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, Inc

Krejcir J. Richard Into Thy Word Ministries 2005 www.intothyword.org